Mindset pitfalls and how to actually win in the professional world

6 Minutes Read

Photo by Memento Media on Unsplash

You know, it's ironic. After running someone else's business for years with ease, so many people struggle to understand how to run their own with the same amount of effortlessness that some do who workout to punch-in/punch-out radio. I know I've experienced the challenge of making the change from working for others to building and successfully running my own company. It's hard. Like really freaking hard. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise because they're lying to you. 

But, I get why everyone wants a piece of the "work-for-myself" pie. It's the ideal job, right? It allows you to balance your work and life. It makes you the boss and you don't have to answer to anyone else (another fallacy). It's the best known yet kept secret in the world and all you have to do to unlock these incredible powers is to purchase a 197 page eBook to get the 10 steps you absolutely must have to be successful as an entrepreneur. 

Barf. Vomit. Throw up. Hit the brakes, kiddo. 

Put the book down and slowly step away from the blazing furnace you're going to throw that lead gen fodder into. 

You're right, in a way. Working for yourself is, in a sense, the ideal job. But there are many obstacles that the gurus don't talk about or day-to-day tips that no one mentions that will literally make or break your success - if they did, they wouldn't sell so many nonsense books. But, whether you work for yourself or you work for/with someone else, the two key factors that will guarantee you win in the professional world are the acquisition of the proper mindset as well as a clearly defined purpose.

There are hundreds more, but I want to talk about these two specific assets because they are literally the most important ones in existence. There are also hundreds of pitfalls and traps that you'll fall into while building your business or career - and I'll mention a few of those as well, but I wanted to share this observation with you first to see what you think.

I'm astonished by this mindset, but maybe I'm just late to the party

OK, I'm going to offend a few people here, so this is your warning. If you're not into self awareness or can't not personalize things that weren't intended for you, this blog post isn't for you. We have plenty of how-to blogs for you to look at, so please feel free.

Part of my job is to work with companies with existing workforces to help enhance their marketing skill sets and teach them how to incorporate strategy into their day to day work. I also work with independent contractors who are either starting their new venture and need some big-sister guidance or are successfully plugging away and enjoy working with my clients as needed. In both situations, specifically, one commonality exists. 

Professionals who have either - #1 lived in a consistent, dormant position at their place of employment or - #2 are trying to break away from their existing place of employment to start their own gigs because they no longer have a professional soul - both struggle with a robotic mindset. 

While hiring recently for new positions, during test project runs, I've experienced some really incredible, jaw-dropping behavior and haven't quite been able to put my finger on what the origin of it was - until now. If you've been doing the daily grind for years and years, it changes you. It makes you into a completely different person - someone you really don't even know exists until it's pointed out to you and when it is, it terrifies you. 

What do I mean? Let me ask you a few questions and see if I can help clarify here a bit:

  • Do you walk into your office (virtual or in-person) every day and have a mindless routine? Coffee, right corner. Chromebook, center. Nod to cubicle neighbor. Sit down. Open computer. Check email inbox, click through and respond. Repeat. Respond. Repeat. Schedule meeting. Respond. Repeat.... and so it continues. Within an hour's time you're plugging away prepping for that weekly, routine meeting to discuss your goals with your manager only to have it be that pep-talk about company growth that gets you through your weekly grind. The proverbial carrot to make each day seem worth something. 
  • Have you found yourself repeating the same phrases to the same people? I'll get that right to you, Cathy. Yep, you're totally right - I'll get on that Jim. Well, it's just another roadblock Steve. What's for lunch today Annette? Do you mind if I put this stapler to my head and push in, Heather? Thanks. 
  • When they say jump, do you say "How high?" The ability to think independently is a struggle. You actually aren't allowed to decide anything without someone else's approval - except for using the restroom or having a smoke break, but that might even depend on if your manager's favorite NCAA team wasn't smack-talked on sports talk-radio this morning. I mean, thinking is for the birds.... ya know, those things that can fly away, eat French fries out of people's hands and just be free. 

When these people are confronted by a person who comes into their business (by invite-only, I might add) to help them better achieve their corporate or entrepreneurial goals, they freak. I mean, at times, they have a complete, nuclear breakdown.

Their inner core overheats and they don't know how to adjust. What do you mean there's a different way to do something? What do you mean that's not efficient? Why are you taking the comfort of my routine, robotic mindset away from me? It's kept me safe and cushy in this job for years... or so you think. 

Mindset kills aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses everyday

Ok, no apologies here if I've offended you. If I did, and you're still reading, you're going to benefit the most from this blog, so don't stop. 

In fact, if you are offended, I want to offer this thought to you.

When was the last time you made an independent decision about your position, career or business? No advice. No Dear Abby column to write in to. No random phone call to a manager you had 7 years ago. You. All you - taking the time to understand why you're doing what you're doing. When was it? Yesterday, or the day you signed your joint venture agreement, maybe your last job offer?

Do you have a purpose for your position? Or, have you lost the ability to think critically and proactively because the thinking has been done for you - therefore purging yourself of the purpose you once held dear and could clearly see?

You will never be successful as a professional (whether in business for yourself or working with/for someone else) if you're not able to think critically, strategically and independently on a daily basis to support your professional purpose. Yep - every day. Not just during your annual executive team retreat. Not during Christmas break at the ski lodge. Or only when it's convenient for your superiors or board of directors.

And this means using that decision-making power to invest in yourself and not expect other people to do that for you - or hide from the responsibility of pouring into yourself. Believe it or not, I've known people who actually avoid learning new things because they want to avoid the responsibility that comes along with having that knowledge. Let me tell you what - if that's you. Wake up and wake up now. Because as comfortable as you are in your position or business, you will be the first person that's let go or business to close to competitors because of your lack of foresight into reality. And the reality is that life takes work and competition exists. 

A purpose driven professional life isn't your actual life

Winning as a professional is to be able to understand and apply the real-world definitions of mindset and purpose to your professional life. Mindset, from the dictionary of Me, is how you process information in a way that supports the best part of your natural abilities. And your natural abilities should drive your purpose.

The one thing that I can't stand about guru books and social influencers is that they are constantly challenging people to "think outside the box" and be like... wait for it... THEM (where'd I put that barf bag?). You were made to be exactly who YOU are and don't let anyone tell you that you're anything else - especially that there's something wrong with your natural skill set.

Something even more important to understand is that you need to stop trying to fit into a mold designed by someone other than you. It's OK to job hop. It's OK to try new things in business. It's OK to fail. You will not get it right the first time. No one does. 

Being a purpose-driven professional means that you've accepted who you are and THAT will make you a successful professional. Entrepreneur, business owner or desk-jockey. And what you do in your professional life, unless you want it to, should not define who you are personally. Neither should other professional opinions about you. 

Your professional life is just nametag you put on everyday to get from point a to point b. From no-cash to cash-cash. So, keep things in perspective. 

How you think defines how you feel, which defines how you decide, which then defines how you act. And that action will dictate a success or failure. So, understanding how to not be a robot, prioritize time for thinking, investing in your professional purpose and remembering that there's nothing wrong with your natural abilities - only room to enhance them, is the key to winning in your professional life.

Why on Earth is a marketing consultant writing this insanity?

Honestly, because I want to see others do the same. Yes, I'm a marketing consultant and complete nerd who developed a business because of wanting to love others into being successful, but I also have moments where I need to tell others (and lightly make fun of) the truth and breakaway from the marketing tips and how to writing pieces. I'm a human under all that technical marketing jargon, ya know? 

And, yes, I'm also a professional consultant, and enjoy working with people to help them understand who they are in their careers and how to expand on their natural, professional talents. I have to put a shameless plug in this part of the blog or my supervisor won't be too happy. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn and also make sure to follow our company page for updates on what's happening - maybe I'll produce another opinion piece in the near future? So, make sure to put us in your feed.

Picture of Elizabeth Krohn

Elizabeth Krohn

Elizabeth "Beth" Krohn is the founder and CEO of Krohn Marketing Inc.